Tiger's POY ... just ask him
By ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun
HOUSTON -- On his way from the ninth green to the 10th tee at Champions Golf Club yesterday, Tiger Woods stopped to shake hands with former U.S. president George Bush.
After he walked off the 18th green at the conclusion of the Tour Championship, Woods stepped up to a podium for a political-style campaign speech.
It was a rare season in which he was unable to allow his clubs to do most of the talking, so Woods made what sounded like an appeal to be named PGA Tour player of the year.
There was a sense that Woods, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III or Canadian Mike Weir could have wrapped up the players-only vote with a victory this week.
Instead, Chad Cambell was a runaway winner at 16-under par, eight strokes better than the nearest POY contenders, Singh and Love, who finished tied for fifth.
Rather than hearing about the minutiae of his three-over-par 74 for a 26th-place finish in the field of 31, Woods was asked to state his case for the electorate.
"I think number of wins," Woods said, referring to his Tour-best five victories this season. "Not only the quality of tournaments that I won, but percentage of (tournaments won).
"That, and I think going into this week I was second lowest (stroke average) of all time."
Next, Woods was asked whether he would be surprised if his fellow players didn't check his name when they get their ballots later today. Results will be announced next month.
"I would be a little bit surprised, yes," said Woods, who has won the award the past four years. "Considering the way I played and with two World Golf Championship wins in there. And on top of that, never missing a cut."
The Singh case is built around wresting the money title from Woods, who has owned that since '98 as well.
The knock by some will be that Singh amassed his bulky $7,573,907 US in winnings ($900,000 and change more than Tiger) by playing in 27 events to Woods' 18.
Singh has his own thoughts on that, of course.
"I think so," Singh said when asked if he should be POY. "I played great the whole season. Even if I don't get it, in my mind I believe I achieved what I wanted."
While it is expected the vote will come down to Singh and Woods, Weir made a last-ditch verbal pitch yesterday. Weir shot an even-par 71 to finish in a tie for 19th.
"It's up in the air," said Weir, who as Masters champion can claim what Woods and Singh cannot, a win in a 2003 major. "It depends on what guys see as valuable. I think I have as much right to it as anybody else. That's the way I see it."
Weir did concede some voters may forget him because much of his success came early in the season.
"I haven't played that great at the end of the year," said Weir, who won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in January, the Nissan Open in February and the Masters in April.
"I haven't played poorly, but I haven't played the greatest. Obviously, I think that momentum is on Vijay's side."
Weir has plenty of consolation to comfort him, mind you. With the $112,500 he earned yesterday, he ended the official portion of the season with $4,918,910, a healthy $2.2 million more than his previous best in 2001. On top of that, Weir's three PGA Tour wins are the most by a Canadian in a single season and the major a first.
As for the vote, if the line of reasoning provided by South African Ernie Els is a weather vane, don't even try to figure the wind direction.
"I need to think about it," Els said, then did. "I'm probably leaning toward Vijay." Then he thought some more. "(Tiger) has five wins. That's pretty strong."
Finally, Els was asked if he would rather have Woods' five wins, Singh's four wins and the money title or the Masters green jacket and two other wins of Weir.
"I'd just take the green jacket, you can have the others," Els said. "But that's me."